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Learn more with this helpful guide to the If We Were Villains characters to improve your reading experience of this popular school-set novel and make it easy to learn who’s who.

if we were villains book with julius caesar book in front of couch.

If We Were Villains Characters

There are seven main characters in If We Were Villains, also known as “the players,” who are studying in their fourth and final school year at Dellecher Classical Conservatory in Broadwater, Illinois in 1997, as the main events occur.

In order of appearance, the players are:

  • Oliver Marks: The Loyal Sidekick
  • Richard Stirling: The Tyrant
  • Meredith Dardenne: The Femme Fatale
  • Filippa Kosta: The Chameleon
  • Alexander Vass: The Villain
  • Wren Stirling: The Ingénue
  • James Farrow: The Hero

Screenshot, save, or share the graphic character guide below to help you read this book:

if we were villains character guide.

QUICK TIPS

  • There are a whopping seven main characters to learn as the story begins and, as they are being introduced, they are also discussing which Shakespearean characters each should play, which makes it extra hard to learn who’s who.
  • I listened to the beginning several times on audio but struggled to learn these characters, so I bought the print book, read the first chapters several times again, and took detailed notes, which I share below. I even made a graphic list you can screenshot or save.
  • With these notes, I learned the characters really easily and didn’t experience any more reading challenges afterward. So, I think you can easily learn the If We Were Villains characters with this guide and read the book in either audio, print, or digital format.

Detailed Character Descriptions

The detailed descriptions of these If We Were Villains below contain only minor plot spoilers.

I have a lot to tell you about If We Were Villains, whether you’ve read it or not. I especially want to help you with characters, as I initially struggled with them, and I want to make your reading experience easier and better.

(However, if you need even more information, check out my summary of If We Were Villains and/or my review of If We Were Villains.)

Oliver Marks

The Loyal Sidekick. When If We Were Villains begins, Oliver, the main character, is in jail for events that occurred ten years earlier, when he was in college. He believes himself to be “average” in every way, and he later calls himself naive. He agrees to tell the story of “what really happened” after he gets released.


Richard Stirling

The Tyrant. From the outset, it’s said that the players want to kill Richard. He’s 6’3″ tall and “carved from concrete” with sharp black eyes and a bass voice. He has an ego and a temper, and he’s been dating Meredith since their second year at the school.


Meredith Dardenne

The Femme Fatale. Richard’s “better half” Meredith has long auburn hair, supple curves, and “skin like satin.” She’s often described by her sex appeal.


Filippa Kosta

The Chameleon. Among the players, Filippa, also known as “Pip,” is the most difficult to cast. She’s tall and olive-skinned with boyish features. She proves herself to be a loyal friend.


Alexander Vass

The Villain. Alexander is described as “thin and wiry” with long, dark, curly hair and “sharp canine teeth.” He dates another male theater student and battles dark demons.


Wren Stirling

The Ingénue. Wren is Richard’s cousin. She’s described as the “girl next door.” She’s small and “waifish with corn silk hair.” She struggles with processing difficult emotions.


James Farrow

The Hero. James is the quintessential “good guy.” He comes from a passionate family and is described as “handsome like a Disney prince.”


Other Characters

There are a few more characters that feature prominently in If We Were Villains who you should know about:

Joseph Colborne is the officer who investigated the case ten years earlier and seeks “the truth” about what happened.

Frederick and Gwendolyn are the players’ theater teachers. Camilo coaches the students on their “blocking” — their movement as they act, particularly as they perform fight scenes.

Colin is a third-year theater student dating Alexander.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are major plot spoilers in this section.

Who is the main character in If We Were Villains?

The main character in If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio is Oliver Marks. When the novel begins, he is in jail for events that occurred ten years earlier, when he was in college studying Shakespearean theater. He believes himself to be “average” in every way, and he later calls himself naive.

Are there LGBT characters in If We Were Villains?

Yes. There are several LGBT characters in If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, including Alexander and Colin. Their sexualities are revealed throughout the novel.

What does Filippa look like in If We Were Villains?

In If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, Filippa is described as tall and olive-skinned with boyish features.

Who was the tyrant in If We Were Villains?

In If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, Richard is the tyrant. From the outset, it’s said that his fellow theater students want to kill him. He’s 6’3″ tall and “carved from concrete” with sharp black eyes and a bass voice. He has an ego and a temper.

Are James and Oliver a couple in If We Were Villains?

In If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, it’s ultimately revealed that the main character, Oliver, is in love with James, his roommate and the “leading man” of the players.

Is Wren a girl in If We Were Villains?

Yes. In If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, Wren is a girl. She’s described as the “girl next door.” She’s small and “waifish with corn silk hair.”

Who killed Richard in If We Were Villains?

In If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, James actually killed Richard after Richard made a homophobic comment about him and Oliver. Realizing his love for James, Oliver confesses to the murder.

Conclusion

If We Were Villains is a superbly executed dark academia coming-of-age novel that masterfully intertwines Shakespearean tragedies with a modern Fall-themed mystery, giving readers a haunting tale of passion in which they can indulge.

To recap this post, if you haven’t yet read it, I especially think it’s important to learn and distinguish the characters well from the outset, and my notes above have helped you with that.

Share your thoughts on this discussion-worthy novel in the comments below.


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